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County renews burn ban order
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – After finding that dry weather conditions continue to pose a high fire danger, Trinity County Commissioners renewed their order banning all outdoor burning on Monday. The outdoor burning ban has been in place throughout the county since March 21 and Monday’s action by commissioners extends the order for another 90 days. The action Monday came as part of a special meeting at which the commissioners also conducted a second public hearing on the proposed tax rate of 63.15 cents per $100 of assessed value. During the hearing, no member of the public appeared to comment on the rate. Although the rate is lower than the current 65-cent figure, it is expected to generate more than $60,000 in additional income next year due to increased property values. Under Texas law, the proposed rate constitutes a 3.5 percent increase in taxes. The proposed tax rate would help fund a proposed $4.5 million general fund budget and a $991,000 road and bridge budget. A final hearing on the new budget is set for a special meeting set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30 in the first-floor Commissioners Courtroom of the newly remodeled Trinity County Courthouse. This will mark the first meeting of the commissioners in the courthouse since the $5 million renovation project was begun more than two years ago. Following the public hearing, commissioners are expected to adopt both the budget and tax rate for the fiscal year, which begins on Saturday, Oct. 1. Jury fees cut During the meeting, commissioners also approved a cut in the fees currently paid to people selected to serve on juries. At present, the county offers to pay those called in for jury service and initial fee of $6, but those who are selected to serve on a panel receive $40 per day once the trial begins. County Treasurer Jo Bitner-Bartee told commissioners the state has been reimbursing the county for $34 of the $40 daily fee but under Texas’ new budget, the reimbursement will drop to $28. Noting that most other area counties have dropped the daily fee to $34 because of the state’s cutbacks, the treasurer recommended Trinity County follow suit and commissioners approved the new $34 per day rate. The initial $6 payment will remain unchanged. Other action During the meeting, commissioners also: • Designated the front portico of the courthouse as the place where public sales will be held starting on Dec. 26. Trinity County Attorney Joe Bell noted that this was where the sales were held until the courthouse restoration project began in 2009 and the courthouse was fenced off. At that point, the county moved the sales to the front of the Trinity County Jail. • Authorized DK Group Enterprises to use county property located near the Trinity County Park to place tree chipping unit and other equipment. The company has obtained a contract with the state to remove dead trees and other debris from highway right-of-ways and has agreed to help provide similar serves on a limited basis to the county in exchange for the use of the land. • Set a public hearing for Oct. 10 to discuss changes to the Trinity Plantation Plan and an a plat for the Woodland Ranch development off Old Highway 19 and Ben Blair Road south of Trinity. Both are being developed by DFC Texas Land LLC, which is seeking to combine the small home lots in Trinity Plantation’s Sections 4 & 5 into lots of one acre or more. If the changes are approved, the lots will be large enough for buyers to install their own water well and septic systems, relieving the developer of requirements to install water and sewer lines in that area. The cost of installing the lines is estimated at over $1 million. • Renewed county insurance policies with the Texas Association of Counties. • Met with Donald Fisher, a former Trinity County chief deputy sheriff, about placing a special plaque honoring the late Sheriff Brent Lee inside the courthouse. Lee was killed a one-car accident in November 2008 while investigating a shooting at the Pinecrest Estates Subdivision south of Trinity. Because Fisher was not on the agenda for the meeting, commissioners could not take action on his request, but agreed to vote on the matter at their Oct. 10 meeting.